The Estate submitted and assorted updates

Sunday has long since come and gone, and The Estate barely made it in. I think I had twenty minutes left on the clock at the time of submission. This, of course, means that I have spent the last few days finding terrible grammatical errors on the story cards. Here’s one now:

Apparently Mario is narrating this story. I know it would really add to the moment if I found myself face-to-face “with-a two shambling figures! It’s-a me!” Most of the errors are like this; remnants of old sentence structure lingering within the finished blurb. I’m not going to address this right now though. I think I’ll wait until I get it in my hands and can make a comprehensive list of the errors. This can go on the Manic Mechanics schedule, which is roughly 2 months per correction apparently.

Speaking of getting it in my hands, I’ve also finished and ordered PUNCH! I didn’t make rules because, well, I know how to play it already and I don’t anticipate it ever being played outside of my presence. That and I really struggle with rules. I also ordered a game not of my own design, and when I get it and play it I’ll probably post some sort of review of it.

Oh, and Manic Mechanics again. I played a really intense game over the weekend, and the players had some excellent suggestions for the game. The 1.1 update is a post-graduation priority, so in about a month these ideas will probably start coming up here.

AND ANOTHER THING: Masterplan Mondays have begun again, and now Alex and I are working with a mutual friend, Morgan, who gave us the gift of the Shima colors. He’s been working with Alex on another project, and we managed to rope him into this one. His perspective is really different from ours, and it has rocketed the project forward. For my part, I’ve started working on a new set of building tokens. Here’s a 3D mockup of a game in progress (sort of).

That’s it for this post. Not really my most focused effort. If the shipping and handling gods smile upon me, I will have pictures of the printed games early next week. If not, Masterplan images should increase in frequency soon. Until then.


Everything Islands and the Masterplan

This may become a recurring thing. I have once again moved through a whole week, and basically all I have to show is a little Masterplan sketch and the fact that someone besides myself has done a bunch of work. Let’s begin with Everything Islands.

So things are going smoothly over there. I think this is going to shape up really nicely, although I will say that suspicions are running high after last year’s disturbingly war-like game. A few people have decided, smartly, to take the path I tread and make a shovel, which is naturally the best thing to have. More importantly, the cool artwork keeps coming. Today we have the DM’s in-game avatar, Captain King Daggerbeard. Hopefully my involvement in the project will pick up once he has a good handle on what needs to get done, but until then, I’m happy to have something to post that isn’t thrown together in Illustrator.



As far as my own work goes, it goes slowly. Alex and I had another Masterplan Monday, and it didn’t really produce any great visuals. What I can say is that it produced the schedule for producing stuff so, yeah, that’s a step in the right direction. Next week will almost certainly result in something new. Here’s the only thing we had for this week:

What we are looking at is a very, very early mock-up of the land tiles for Masterplan. They will need to have the triangles drawn into them, and the pattern will hopefully be much cooler, but the overall style is pretty much there. I’m looking for a light-colored, two-tone pattern to represent each land type, and we were both excited by the idea of using some colors more than once, so that no type was made of two completely unique colors. We’re going to request help from the friend who made the colors for Shima, so my god-awful palette choices will not remain for long.

On a different level, we pretty much came to the conclusion that Masterplan, while very fun, will not be something that we try and market on TGC. It is going to cost somewhere in the $50-$60 range, which is just too high for an independent game. We will technically publish it, and it will be available for purchase, but realistically it will function more as a prototype that we play with friends and maybe one day try and bring to a bigger publisher. Either way, it’s gonna be really great to see Alex’s design brought to life with some real components.


New(ish) projects

So yesterday was the first of a series of “Masterplan Mondays,” in which Alex and I have an in-depth discussion about his game and where we want to go with it. Yesterday was basically just a strategy meeting for the TGC version, so there weren’t any new graphics produced. I’ve also run out of old drawings to pretend to have created. So no Masterplan pictures today, which is a huge bummer.

In completely unrelated news, I’ve become marginally involved in a friends gaming project. It’s called Everything Islands, and it’s a a text-based role-playing game where everything (ha) is possible, with some limitations on effort, which I think is pretty well explained by this picture.

Basically, the more things you attempt, the worse they turn out individually. Mr. Left dug one awesome hole, while Mr. Right dug four crappy holes.

It’s actually the third installment of the series, following Everything Egg and Everything Island (singular). Not to brag, but I pretty much came up with whole “multiple islands” idea as a possible expansion. Pretty much the single greatest contribution to the project of all time. Except maybe the hours of writing, drawing, and planning that he puts into it every year. Either way, that should be taking up a bit of my time, and although it isn’t a board game, I figure it’s worthwhile to post about here. I might be helping him make some diagrams, so get ready for that.


You win some, you lose some.

This title is technically incorrect. I have, in reality, never won some. But Alex has, so I guess it works for him. Either way, the verdict on Shima is in and we did a bit worse than we had hoped. Although we had made it to the finals, the judges didn’t have the best time playing the game. It isn’t a big surprise, at least to me, but in our defense the game has a serious learning curve. Having played a few times, I’m pretty confident that I could play smoothly through a game. For first-timers, I think it would definitely be tough. Hopefully we can use this as a learning experience and do better in further contests.

So moving on from that, there is always Masterplan. I’ve been looking at some token designs to represent the three building types. I’m not really looking to describe the workings of the game, but I will say that players purchase, develop, and build on triangular parcels of land (posted earlier). The buildings will be represented by TGC tokens with building stickers. The final design is pretty far off, but the basic graphic will look something like this:

The three types are Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. The designs are supposed to be as simple as possible, but I felt that I needed to add some emphasis in the form of extra lines. The shapes looked fine, but they lacked energy. The Commercial drawing needed it the most, probably because the shape itself is not already iconic, unlike the other two.

So that’s it for now. I just got back for my last semester of school, so this stuff will really be slowing down. Hopefully Masterplan becomes the focus, mostly because it isn’t technically “my” game, so the pressure is much lower. Anyhow, let’s hope this isn’t the last post for a while. Perhaps next Tuesday will have something to show.

Alex Coulombe’s Masterpiece: Masterplan!

So if you’ve looked at Alex’s website, you may have read about a game he designed called Masterplan. Specifics aside, it’s interesting how Alex and I have been leap-frogging through the field of board game design. First he invents a game, then I find TGC, then he publishes a game, then I enter a contest, then he wins a contest. It’s especially interesting how he continually beats me to the important parts like publishing and winning.

Either way, I have played Masterplan and I love it. I’ll leave actual game explanations to Alex, but I will say that it is played on small, triangular boards representing different plots of lands. Originally Alex published this game using the printers at school and some chipboard, so the shapes available to him were limited only by his own patience. When we found TGC, we both thought it would be great to get a version of Masterplan printed. Problem was that triangular boards required the end-user to cut up the printed boards, and also led to a lot of wasted space and money. But about a week ago JT announced Hex Cards, and everything changed. I really quickly pumped out a concept for using the hex cards to simulate triangles. Take a look.

It is a bit much to take in, especially without any context, but here’s a basic explanation:

The top right represents a blank board in the old game. It is made up of six triangles, each representing a different type of land (Clockwise from top: mountain, desert, swamp, plains, forest, brownfield). Below that image is what an empty board would look like made from the hex pieces. Technically, all the information is retained. Legibility is the only problem. Compounding this is the left side of the image. This shows the boards with the buildings, currently conceived of as token chips, placed on each possible building plot.

Again, this was a quick sketch (I sketch with AutoCAD and Live Paint. Don’t judge me…).  Alex and I have been cooling down from Shima, but in the next couple of weeks we may see fit to bring this project out from the back-burner. Until then, I still need to 1.1 my released games, and new games are still possible. Next time: an introduction to my international collaboration. Hint: Mon Dieu!